Married to a Serial Killer? That’s an “Irreconcilable Difference”

Married to a Serial Killer? That’s an “Irreconcilable Difference”Learning that fairytales aren’t real is never easy, but it’s a lesson we all grow to understand. “Happily ever after” is created with a lot of hard work, commitment, and love rather than just kissing the right frog and sometimes, with some couples, it isn’t created at all. The real world can be painful and complicated; people and situations are constantly changing, for better or for worse. That, of course, is why divorce exists.

There’s an endless list of reasons why someone may divorce a spouse of decades. For a rather extreme example, we can look at the case of Asa Ellerup and Rex Heuermann. If the names look familiar, it’s because Rex recently rose to infamy when he was arrested for three counts of murder (and suspicion of a fourth). Even after 27 years of marriage, his wife Asa had no idea about her husband’s past and was rightfully horrified, filing for divorce soon after facing proof of his crimes.

Even though this terrible situation took place in Long Island, we can translate it to Maryland law and see how any person in any marriage may seek a divorce — as long as they do it right, and with the right legal help.

Understanding the available grounds for divorce in Rockville

Asa, thankfully, got an attorney immediately and was able to file for an uncontested divorce. This essentially means all matters pertaining to their legal separation, like property division, asset ownership, and any other marital issues, have already been agreed upon by both parties. It is a little surprising to us that Rex was so amicable about the divorce, but the power of a good attorney on your side means they can sometimes help that happen — especially if your ex is a serial killer.

Right now, here in Maryland, filing for divorce can be a lengthy and complicated process in and of itself. You must know how to file and what to file under if you want your case considered at all by the court — which is just one reason why having a divorce attorney helping you is so important. If Asa were getting divorced in our state and Rex (and his attorney) were less cooperative, she would have a possible struggle filing for divorce. There are grounds for filing for cruelty, but by all accounts, he never abused her or their two now-adult children. Other grounds for insanity or even criminal conviction require specific proof and documentation, and usually at least a year behind bars or in a hospital (depending on the grounds).

This may sound disheartening, but even with the current laws, a skilled Rockville divorce and family law attorney could help. And, thankfully, those laws are changing sooner than you think.

How the new Maryland law will make the divorce process easier

Starting October 1st of this year, there will be three grounds for divorce: mutual consent, irreconcilable differences, or a six-month separation rather than the current 12. Importantly, this separation can count even if you two still lived under the same roof but led separate lives as much as possible. For victims of harder-to-prove domestic violence, people with minor children, or indeed someone living with an alleged (but not abusive) serial killer who isn’t yet behind bars, this could be a literal life-saving change that greatly eases the divorce process. Not everyone can afford, financially or otherwise, to move out immediately but that does not mean they shouldn’t be able to legally separate from a traumatic situation.

Additionally, the inclusion of irreconcilable differences means people like Asa finally have a concrete path to divorce. Irreconcilable differences are simply differences you do not ever expect to overcome. In other words, regardless of your spouse’s agreement, the marriage is permanently over whether or not it legally remains. You would simply need to explain your reasoning to the court (with an attorney) and, in the case of a potentially dangerous partner, you would meet the criteria for filing. For folks in extreme circumstances, this option is a far better one than the tradition “no-fault” or “mutual consent” grounds.

Having a Rockville divorce attorney on your side can make all the difference

Even if your ex isn’t accused of killing multiple people, your divorce can still be far from amicable — and unfortunately, less than safe. High-conflict divorces refer to just these cases, when one party is absolutely refusing to cooperate or act civilly. Whether they just don’t want to end the marriage or they’re an actually dangerous individual, having skilled legal representation assisting you and providing you with options is how these divorces get done anyways. Not only can they help make sure you never talk directly to your ex (and certainly not in person), but they can protect you, your children, and your assets far beyond just helping you get through the divorce.

For example, even before a divorce is finalized, your attorney can help you obtain a protective order against an abusive or threatening ex (or a peace order if you’re trying to help the victim but aren’t involved yourself) that gets them removed from your home and your children’s lives immediately. These orders can help ensure your abuser never gets custody of your kids while still forcing them to pay child support, under threat of imprisonment if they violate any aspect.

In the same vein of pre-divorce assistance, family law and divorce attorneys can help you plan a future divorce with or without your spouse’s cooperation, so you go into the process with much of the difficult work planned for, mitigated, or already done. Whether you just need extra peace of mind or to explore options you wouldn’t otherwise knew existed, attorneys are there to assist.

After the divorce filing, they can help argue in your favor during any subsequent property dispute, child custody dispute (especially if they’re accused of a dangerous crime), or even post-divorce conflicts such as your ex refusing to pay spousal or child support. If it has to do with your family and any legal matter, working with an attorney can only ever help your situation, and this is doubly true if your ex is potentially or currently a danger to you and your loved ones.

With offices in Fulton, Columbia, Bethesda, and Rockville, the family law and divorce attorneys at McCabe Russell, PA provide representation you can rely on when you need it most. We are here to answer your questions and help, no matter how contentious your situation may be. For more information, don’t hesitate to call or use our contact form today. Proudly serving Montgomery and Howard Counties.